I have to admit although I am a voracious reader, I sometimes get far behind in reading all the articles, journals, blogs, books, and white papers available on leadership subjects. Whenever I run across something I want to read, it goes into my stack (physical as well as electronic) and I move through all my reading at a consistent, yet slow pace. So, it is no surprize that I found myself just recently reading HR Magazine’s article about characteristics of companies who develop top leaders in the January/February 2015 issue. This may be an article that came out more than 6-months ago, but the points are still completely valid. This article by Dori Meinert shares 5 charactistics that came from a survey of 180 companies conducted by Aon Hewitt in 2014. Below is my own spin on the 5 points from Meinert’s article.
- Assessment. Leaders are assessed for development potential early in their career by companies who develop top leaders. Multiple leadership, personality, and behavior type assessments are available. For the most part any of these can be valuable if they are put to use for guiding and developing each individual based on his or her strengths and needed growth areas. In my workshops for supervisors and managers, as well as with my private coaching clients, we often use DISC, Myers-Briggs, Emotional Intelligence, or Strengths Finders assessments depending on the client and their needs. I’m happy to help anyone who is interested in assessing their communication and leadership capabilities whether it involves delivering dozens, hundreds, or just one assessment.
- Self-Awareness. Leaders are encouraged to understand their strengths and weaknesses, not simply based on their own perception, but also based on how others perceive their actions. This is why 360 assessments that include self, subordinate, supervisor, client, and peer reviews can be exceptionally helpful. Several of the assessments available through Leader Discovery include options to gather information from multiple raters in a confidential manner. The key to using 360 evaluations is that they are used for growth and development of the leader, not for formal performance evaluation purposes. These 360 evaluations have the greatest potential when used for those in middle management positions, or for individual coaching clients who may be struggling to move forward in an organization and desire insight into how they are coming across to others.
- Empowerment. Leaders are empowered to be creative, innovative, and thoughtful problem solvers. Top companies never stifle the ideas and creativity of their employees who want to try something new, improve processes and programs, grow and develop in new and innovative ways. Leading companies do not punish failure, but rather encourage informed, smart risk-taking. If a new idea or project doesn’t turn out as the empowered leader hoped, the leader is encouraged to learn from the failure, and try something innovative again after applying the learning and problem solving that came from past mistakes.
- Engagement. Companies with top leadership develop programs focus a great deal of time and energy on engaging their employees at all levels, assessing engagement through employee surveys, and then taking action to remedy areas that are not conducive to engagement. Leader Discovery has helped southern Arizona companies conduct their own confidential engagement and employee satisfaction surveys, in a cost effective process, and help those companies develop plans to foster an environment of engagement.
- Strategic Performance Alignment. Top companies have clear strategic plans that focus on long-term sustainability of the company. Furthermore, they communicate openly and transparently to their employees at all levels what is the company mission, vision, and goals; and they help each department, team, and individual connect their work goals to the company strategy. Rather than letting budget, status quo, or pet projects drive what gets accomplished on a day-to-day basis, these companies assess each work function and activity to ensure it is helping the company achieve the long term sustainable goals of the organization. They set measurable company performance goals, which are shared with their employees so each person can do his or her part in helping the organization achieve its vision.